Reasons I love writing in Spring:

These photos were taken in the Hunter Valley and the Hunter Valley Gardens last week. I was inspired by Yumi and Taka at Dear Plastic, who often post photos of the flowers they see on their travels around the world.

A Guide To The Trees

While we’re on the subject of plants, and since my previous post was about handsome old books, I thought I’d show you a few pages from a very old book called A Guide To The Trees.

I picked this one up at a botanical bookstore in Glebe called Florilegium. I have a soft spot for books about plants, which I guess has grown out of childhood preoccupations with terrariums and Burke’s Backyard.

A Guide To The Trees was written by Alice Lounsberry and illustrated by Mrs Ellis Rowan. This is the second edition, published in New York in 1900. Lounsberry was an American botanist while Rowan was an Australian botanical artist.

The book describes and includes illustrations of nearly two hundred trees and shrubs then present in the United States.

From the Preface:

“THERE is a solemnity, a repose about the great trees, and the restless, ceaseless stirring of the small ones is full of mystery. So self-evident are they, so close at hand that we almost find ourselves in danger of being oblivious to their presence. They never intrude upon the attention ; they rather pursue indomitably their own way. As landmarks of history many trees have been revered ; traditions and superstitions have clustered about them while in mute eloquence they have answered the people’s expectations. In England, to-day, there are oaks standing that knew the ground before its conquest by the Romans. Nothing is grander than are trees. Nothing gives of its best more freely to man. And to each one there is an individuality which have once been observed may be traced into the folk-lore of nations.”

These are a couple of this book’s previous owners:

The magnolia, my favourite flower:

A handy tree for rainy days:

An internet-savvy variety:

Description of the Tulip Tree (White-Wood):

“There is something to make one tremble in the gigantic proportions, the tall, column-like trunk and the strangely cut leaves of this tree when it is approached for the first time, and the fancy is bred that the world would be a very different place if trees should ever lose their meek defenselessness and strut around arranging thing to suit themselves. Man would appear very small then, while the tulip tree might be the king of the globe. It is a tree that at all times is readily recognised; but in the spring, when it is covered with its tulip-like flowers, it is truly a surprising sight. As freely and unconsciously the great structure throws out its bloom as though it were some lively, wayside flower. … In cultivation the tree is a great favourite and has, especially when young, a high-bred expression. It is hardy, grows rapidly and becomes without doubt one of the largest and most beautiful of the American forest. … At Craggy Mountain, twelve miles north-east of Asheville, North Carolina, there is standing a tulip tree that is thought to be the largest one in America. In girth it is thirty-one feet at a distance of ten feet from the ground, and it stands upwards of one hundred and fifty feet high. In that rugged place, at an elevation of three thousand feet above the sea level, it raises a clear and straight shaft which is also hollow. What is the tree’s history, no one knows.”

Pretty persimmons:

The humble apple:

The narrow-leaved crab-apple:

While at Florilegium, I also found a book from this century called One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein. It teaches readers to grow plants for food in one square metre.

Not sure if it’s too late in the year to plant one of these tiny gardens but I’m going to try.

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